Kemp, US Surgeon General stress wearing masks as a way to get college football, Masters in fall

Published: Jul. 2, 2020 at 10:23 AM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - On the four-month anniversary of the first COVID-19 confirmed case in the state of Georgia, Gov. Brian Kemp and US Surgeon General Jerome Adams are on to the next battlefront of the fight against COVID-19: wearing masks.

Appearing at Augusta University Medical Center, Kemp and Adams stressed the importance of good hygiene, social distancing, and, of course, wearing a mask.

“Please wear a face covering a mask to protect others around you,” Adams said. “This is the most effective tool we have, and the governor talked about Fourth of July. Fourth of July is all about freedom. And I’ve heard people say that this is an imposition on my freedom is an impediment to my right to choose. Again I reject that argument. The more of us who wear the mask, the more we will be able to open safely and stay open, and the more choices, the more freedom, the more opportunities we will have.”

A big change from back in February, when he tweeted to stop buying masks and claimed they are not effective.

“What’s changed is we learned COVID-19 unlike all the other coronaviruses we’ve had experience with has a high degree of asymptomatic spread,” Adams said.

The research changed-- so their recommendations changed too.

“I’m fully aware that we have all had to make sacrifices during this pandemic, and that has been the responsibility, quite honestly, of all Americans and all Georgians. And we are continuing to travel the state to encourage Georgians to do the right thing. Practice social distancing, wash your hands, wear your mask when you’re going out in public,” Kemp said.

But Kemp will not issue a statewide mandate to wear masks like other governors across the nation.

“The good thing about it is all the people that are politicizing this issue, we all agree on the same thing: it’s a good idea to wear a mask. I don’t think we need a mandate for people to do the right thing,” Kemp said. “I have great trust in our citizens to heed the call. They’ve done it before. They did it to help us flatten the curve and stop the spread before.”

But before their scheduled visit, Kemp and Adams’ message was designed to strike straight into the hearts of sports fans: wear a mask or no football this fall.

“If you want some college football this fall and other sports, wear your mask for the next few weeks,” Kemp said. “Let’s flatten the curve and drive the numbers down.”

But Adams also called out Augusta specifically when it comes to one particular major sporting event that’s already been postponed once.

“If you all want the Masters, this is the way to get us to the Masters,” Adams said, holding up a mask.

Kemp’s messaging is similar to South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster’s words on Wednesday where he cautioned that fall sports would not happen if COVID-19 cases continued to spike in the Palmetto State.

Adams and Kemp visited the area as part of the state’s “Wear a Mask” tour.

COVID-19 cases continue to rise across the Southeast and in Georgia.

On Wednesday alone, just under 3,000 new cases of the virus were identified and 22 more died as a result of contracting it in Georgia.

Gov. Brian Kemp spoke Thursday morning on the importance of wearing masks.

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